Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,600 – Arachne

Posted by Uncle Yap on April 3rd, 2012

Uncle Yap.

The Spider Woman spun a very tricky web of intrigue and mystery today in a challenging puzzle with quite a fair number of unfamiliar words; but, as usual, very fair and entertaining. Thank you, Arachne.

Hold cursor over clue number to read a clue.

1 LESSING ha for Doris May Lessing CH (née Tayler; born 1919) a Zimbabwean-British writer awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature.
5 DIVISOR *(VIROIDS) denominator in a vulgar fraction – wonder whether anybody used upstair-downstair like I did when I learned this stuff ages ago
9 TOXIC Ins of OX (bovine) in TICK (mite) minus K
10 BEATITUDE BEAT IT JUDE (Get lost, man) minus J for the Beatitudes, a set of teachings by Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Matthew & Luke.
11 SWEEPINGLY Ins of WEEP (pipe) in SINGLY
12 IDOL “I DO” (as in marriage vow in church) + L (left, sinister)
14 CORUSCATION Ins of *(ATROCIOUS) in CertaiN (left and right banks) glittering; a sudden flash of light.
21 PUSH Alexander Pushkin  (1799–1837) a Russian author minus KIN (family)
22 PUFF PASTRY PUFF (praise) PAS (rev of SAP, fool) TRY (attempt)
25 LANDOWNER Ins of AND (with) OW (expression of pain) in LNER (London and North-Eastern Railway, old lines)
26 COOED Ins of O (love) in CO-ED
28 EARPLUG Expert Airmen R (right) + PLUG (stuff)
1 LATEST Would you believe it … I have been snookered but thanks to AndrewC@3 NATWEST (bank) with L substituted for N plus removal of W (middle letter, essentially ignored)
2 SEXIER Ins of XI (eleven, football team perhaps) in SEER (Sibyl, Greek prophetess.)
3 INCAPACITY Ins of PA (old man) in INCA CITY (Cuzco, perhaps)
4 GABON Thanks to sidey@1, Greta GARBO (actress, reputed to have once said “I want to be alone”) minus R (runs, as in cricket) + N (north) Isn’t publicity-shy actress an oxymoron?
5 DEADLY SIN *(DISNEYLAND minus hooligaN)
6 VIII VI (Vivien, perhaps, girl) II (two individuals)
7 SQUADDIE SQUAD (some policemen) DIE (go) military slang for a private
8 RIESLING pRIESt (defrocked clergyman) L (large) *(GIN)
13 MADAGASCAR Cha of MAD (crazy) AGA’S (commander’s) CAR (way of travelling)
15 RUM-RUNNER Ruthless Ukrainian Mafia RUNNER (shoot, plant part)
16 SKY PILOT *(SPIKY) + LOT, Old Testament character whose wife turned into a pillar of salt while fleeing Sodom)
19 STROLL ST (saint) ROLL (rock)
20 PYE-DOG *(PODGY Eastern) an ownerless or half-wild dog in Asia
23 FURZE Sounds like FURS (sable, foxes, etc)
24 JOWL J (judge) OWL (hooter bird)  Anyone can remember the name of the character in Thomas Hardy’s Far From The Madding Crowd who was lost in the forest and when hearing the hoot of an owl replied “Uncle Yap from Kuala Lumpur” ? Tickled me no end when I first read this half a century ago :-) Time certainly flies when you’re having fun

Key to abbreviations
dd = double definition
dud = duplicate definition
tichy = tongue-in-cheek type
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
rha = reversed hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram


45 Responses to “Guardian 25,600 – Arachne”

  1. sidey says:

    I suspect that the actress in 4d is Garbo who may have said “I want to be alone” minus Runs, right isn’t in the clue.

  2. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Arachne and Uncle Yap from Kuala Lumpur. Enjoyed this puzzle very much. PYE-DOG was new to me. On 10ac I thought the phrase to be amended would be BEAT IT (D)UDE.

    Later, man.

  3. AndrewC says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap for the blog.

    1dn is, I think, NatWest with a new capital (N -> L) and the middle letter (‘essential’) ignored = latest (most recent).

    Thanks also to Arachne.

  4. JollySwagman says:

    I think 1d is based on NATWEST.

    Lovely puzzle and thanks for the blog UY – needed you for 20d

  5. samak says:

    I think 10a might be from “Beat it (D)ude” rather than Jude.

  6. Minerva says:

    The usual overweening botchwork. And she ensnared my owl!

  7. andy smith says:

    Thanks for the blog. I was mystified by 1d, so ty all for that.

    This is a pangram, FWIW.

  8. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, UY.

    The Quiptic yesterday, the Cryptic today … Arachne will be instructing the chauffeur to bring the Rolls up the gravelled drive to Spider Towers to whisk her off to the shops.

    Plenty of ways into the puzzle, but I struggled to finish it. I would never have parsed LATEST by breakfast time tomorrow, never mind today. But it was all fair and more importantly entertaining. BEATITUDE hit the spot for its slight irreverence. I also liked CORUSCATION because so few people use it correctly these days: if one more journalist uses it as a synonym for ‘scathing’ and writes that ‘he launched a coruscating attack on his political opponent’, I will scweam and scweam and scweam.

    Fine crossword; thank you to the setter.

  9. Rick says:

    Being pedantic, shouldn’t the explanation for 9 across be”

    Ins of OX (bovine) in TICK (mite) minus K ?

    I enjoyed the puzzle and the blog (thanks, as always, to Arachne and Uncle Yap). I got the answer to 1 down but not the reasoning; I can’t improve on the “NatWest” suggestion.

    I too had “Dude” (as opposed to “Jude”) in 10 across (but both work).

  10. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks UY and Arachne.

    I, too, was a DUDE man, but Jude is quite appealing. I counted seven biblical/churchy clues; I wonder if there was any reason for this?

    Couldn’t decipher 1d, so thanks to the Natwest commentators.

    I thought this was on the easy side for Arachne, but very enjoyable.

  11. Le Petomane says:

    I protest. VIII is a symbol not a word. I thought I was doing a cross WORD. That one just made me cross.

  12. Cliff says:

    I agree. VIII is not a word (and it isn’t in dictionaries as such). It should have been clued as (1,1,1,1) and we’d better watch out for clues of MMCMLVI and other such silly answers.

  13. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    When I see Arachne I expect something good but like Dave @10 it was a little disappointing.
    There were a number of interesting clues.Some less common words (sky pilot, pyedog) and some very complicated devices (latest, Gabon). I was luckily delayed a little by the NE corner which turned out to contain my favourite clues (6,7, 8 d).
    Many of you seem to go back over a solved puzzle and display your admiration. My admiration has to occur at the point of reading and solving or not at all. It’s the ‘puzzle’ which counts, not the poetry.

  14. Gervase says:

    Thanks, UY.

    Nice one from Arachne – easier than usual, as several have commented, but full of ingenious clues.

    Favourites were the defrocked clergyman at 8d (I spotted the answer with a few crossing letters and thought at first that the ‘cocktail of gin’ was SLING), the old man in Cuzco at 3d, and 26a, 28a, 7d for their construction and clever surfaces.

    Last in was 6d! I don’t mind that this is not a ‘proper word’ – it made me smile. (BTW, I think VI is more usually a pet name for Violet).

    The puzzle is a pangram. I only spotted this when I put in FURZE, by which time I had all the letters of the alphabet anyway!

  15. Monkeypuzzler says:

    Thanks to Arachne & Uncle Yap.

    I have to say I didn’t like 6d for the reasons already mentioned. Why viii? There are a few v?i? options Arachne could have gone for as a solution. It wasn’t necessary for pangramatic reasons, nor to ensure every vowel was “i” as appeared a few years ago – though I can’t remember who the setter was that time.

    And can Uncle Yap elaborate on the Far From The Madding Crowd reference?

  16. tupu says:

    Thanks UY and Arachne

    An entertaining puzzle. My COD was 10a which I also read with ‘dude’ which makes better sense for ‘man’. I had to check pye-dog and ( :)apologies to K’s D) coruscate (the proper scathing word is of course excoriate). 25a was also nice. Generally very well-clued as usual.

  17. David W says:

    Thanks for the correct answer to 6d. But I still prefer my own. Two opposing bridge players supporting a girl to give “vine” – a reference to the answer at 8d.

  18. John Appleton says:

    I had no problems with including VIII – it’s a bit sneaky, but should cryptics not be on occasions? I also thought “Beat it Jude” was Arachne’s intention; if so a humorous take on biblical events.

  19. crypticsue says:

    Arachne two days running – what a treat. The best crossword this morning by a long way – I put dots by clues I like and the piece of paper is quite ‘spotty’ today. THanks very much for making me smile a lot Arachne, and thanks to UY too.

  20. Eileen says:

    And mine’s very ‘ticky’, Sue! Lots of great story-telling clues, which is just one of the things I love about Arachne’s puzzles – some of them hilarious, eg 8dn.

    6dn also made me laugh – when I finally got it! It seems to be a Marmite clue but I can’t see what all the fuss is about.

    Hi K’s D – I’ve always wondered where the infuriating misuse of ‘coruscate’ came from: I think tupu’s right, that it’s [a bit] like ‘excoriate’.

    Many thanks, Arachne, as ever, for all the fun. Thank you for the blog, UY.

  21. Robi says:

    Nice puzzle, although I, too, fail to see what was wrong with vain, veil, vein, void etc. in 6. Perhaps the spider woman just likes to tease.

    I, too, failed to parse LATEST, but AndrewC @3 seems to have got it. I’m not sure about UY’s little joke (?) There’s no Uncle Yap in the Hardy novel.

  22. Col says:

    I liked 6d. By no means every answer in cryptic crosswords appears in the dictionary, and listing it as 4, rather than 1,1,1,1 just makes it more, er… cryptic. That balanced the fact that it wasn’t difficult to solve. It was one word (eight) to the Romans.

  23. Mr. Jim says:

    The pangram helped me solve this (JOWL last in). I thought BEAT IT, DUDE was a hilarious device (perhaps I know too many Californians; JUDE never occurred to me). VIII does seem an odd choice of word (I solved it early but resisted putting it in until I had both checked, I thought perhaps it could have been VINO given the end of 8d).

  24. postrophe says:

    I too am in the’dude’ camp, man.

    Just loved 13 :)

  25. chas says:

    Thanks to UY for the blog.

    I failed to spot the pangram – even though I had FURZE already solved. If I had seen it then I expect I would have solved JOWL but sadly that one beat me :(

  26. Mick H says:

    “Beat it Dude” was a gem, and I liked the hidden at 1ac too. Good stuff.

  27. John says:

    What has “weep” got to do with “pipe” please?

  28. Eileen says:

    Hi John

    When I was a child and cried over nothing, I was told to stop piping my eye. [I see now that Chambers has it as ‘to weep’.]

  29. Eileen says:

    I should have said Chambers has pipe = weep

  30. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap

    I normally struggle with the Spider Woman. Made steady progress today till I was left with 6d VIII. The clue made no sense to me.

  31. John says:

    Thanks Eileen @29. I might have known.

  32. nametab says:

    I presumed ‘Jude’ at 10a because of the Biblical references elsewhere, but ‘dude’ parses better. I, too, couldn’t parse LATEST, so thanks for explanations. Defrocked priest is neat. Liked 26 ac because it’s one of thoss short answers that seems to have far too much definition at first (and a nice surface too).

  33. morpheus says:

    At the risk of going slightly off topic and incuring the wrath of Gaudfrid I don’t see what the problem is with words morphing their meaning as with coruscating, which just happens to sound “right” (at least to me) in the context where it is used to mean scathing. This has been happening throughout the history of the spoken word – one only has to look at common words in different languages which now have different meanings but clearly the same etymological root. Words are merely tools and the struggle over their use (viz eg the word gay) is part of the evolutionary dynamic.

  34. Sil van den Hoek says:

    So, most of us are on Arachne’s side.
    We are too.

    While I see the difference with yesterday’s Quiptic (less storytelling surfaces in that puzzle, everything just a bit simpler), I must say there wasn’t much difference in difficulty.
    Which doesn’t mean this crossword was too easy, but more that Arachne put her personal stamp on that Quiptic too (one that I enjoyed very much).

    We knew that 1d had to be LATEST, but didn’t see why (and didn’t come back to it), we liked the definition for EARPLUG (sound barrier) and raised our eyebrows (perhaps unjustly) when entering ‘ROLL’ for ‘rock’, because why talk about Rock ‘n’ Roll then ….. ? :)

    Arachne is really good at anagrams: 14ac (CORUSCATION), 5d (DEADLY SIN) and 18ac (KLEPTOMANIA) are exquisite examples of that.

    Our first entry was LESSING (1ac) – a hidden, but unfortunately made all the more obvious by the break in ‘Eyeless’ (in the PDF version) – not Arachne’s ‘fault’.
    Our last was FURZE (23d), the only one that had to be checked.

    Stand-out clues:
    10ac (BEATITUDE) – quite sure it is “Beat it, dude”, hilarious!
    And while I understand that not everyone’s happy with VIII at 6d, I do like setters who stick their neck out and try something novel at times. And Arachne did!

    Thank you, Uncle Yap, for another comprhensive blog.

  35. Wolfie says:

    I enjoyed this despite finding it more straightforward than the usual offerings from this setter. I am another who did not like VIII as a solution.

    Ticks are, of course, Arachnids – close relatives of spiders. Nice to see them used as fodder by Arachne.

    Thanks for the blog Uncle Yap.

  36. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Evening, morpheus. Since I started the debate, I will add one more comment. You are right; usage changes, and that is one of the beauties of English. But if enough folk stick with usage, we will keep important distinctions: I might well be uninterested in your comment at no 33; but given my contribution earlier, I’m unlikely to be disinterested, because I disagree with you. And there are plenty of other words for ‘scathing’, so if I get some time over the holiday weekend, I shall start a “let’s keep ‘coruscating’ for ‘sparkling’ campaign” on Facebook.

    Except I don’t have a Facebook account.

  37. Rorschach says:

    What a shame they aren’t called Beatitudas…

  38. mark says:

    Not to my taste at all.

    Ok, good to learn that pipe = weep. Fair enough.

    But 1D, per-lease! That’s so tortured and just unfair. I guessed the answer but where’s the fun in that.

    What is “She” doing in 25A?
    6D – it’s all been said already

    Finally, and I’m happy to be educated – why does “sky pilot” = clergyman?

  39. BertandJoyce says:

    Totally disagree with mark@38. A really enjoyable solve this evening. Last one in was ‘latest’ which was rather appropriate all things considered. Just managed to work it out before checking the blog!

    Sky-pilot is slang for a clergyman or military chaplain in Chambers – perhaps someone to guide you on the way to heaven in the skies!! Or then again………. maybe not!

    Thanks Arachne – you didn’t disappoint again! Really liked the fact that the landowner was a woman! Good on you!

    Thanks also to UY!

  40. Bovine says:

    Definitely one of Arachne’s easier ones. Absolutely loved 6d. Thought 10a was dreadful.

  41. chas says:

    To Mark@28
    I believe ‘sky-pilot’ is specifically RAF slang for a chaplain.

  42. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Enjoyable solve, but I must add my objection to 6D.

    Perhaps OK if some indication of derivation (Latin, Roman, Caesar’s or something suitably more subtle). But 8! Not for me.

  43. RCWhiting says:

    Mark @38
    Would you prefer “He possesses tract…”?
    Exactly why?

  44. AndrewC says:

    Sky Pilot

  45. Huw Powell says:

    Mark @ 38, one of Arachne’s trademark twists is to play with gender for purposes of general obfuscation. Of course a woman can be a LANDOWNER, if she possesses a tract, as can a man, but using “she” might send the solver off in the direction of a woman’s name, say, either as charade fodder or perhaps the eventual solution to aim for.

    I’d like to see MCMLIII clued, with the enumeration (8-5,5) despite a 7 letter space.

    LATEST was interesting (I did not parse it), since I believe I have seen “NATWEST” used as fodder before somehow.

    Thanks UY and Arachne and everyone else!

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